Thursday, September 30, 2004

A new bike, sorta

Me new bike

Although I've been working at CN for five years now, testing bikes has not been one of my main departments. I think I've test ridden one other machine in that time, but now I'm being inundated with the bloody things. Today's inundation came from England, where they now make Flandria bikes (or maybe they always did) and I am now in possession of a Flandria CSS-1 with Campagnolo Veloce 10 Speed Phwoar.

Actually I suspect it's a bit of a dud because if you look closely, you'll see that it didn't come with pedals. So I'll either have to send it back or chop off my feet. I haven't decided on an appropriate course of action, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

Things have slowed down a little today (and today only) after the Madness of the World Champeenships in Bardolino/Verona. Having that happen slap bang after the Vuelta was bloody ordinary, and I've told the UCI that they can keep their Pro Tour.

Family-related trivia: On day one, a Slovenian guy called Brajkovic won the U23 TT. I'm not sure if he drives like one though. Sorry, only three people will understand that one.

Of course it was jolly good to see Mick "Dodger" Rogers winning a real World Championship in the men's TT after he was denied by the cheating swine David Millar in Hamilton last year. The sad fact is, Millar probably didn't even need EPO to win - he won by 1'25 and said he was taking it steady after he got the gap. But the upshot of it was that Rogers had to wait until a few weeks ago to be presented with his 2003 rainbow jersey, and so he only did one race in it! Real rude deal man. So I was suitably chuffed when he crossed the line 20 seconds behind Michael "Ich Bin Der TT Monster" Rich to win the bloody thing. And to hear the Anthem by Lake Garda was nice.

As for the road races, lessee: Probably Bettini, Freire/Flecha, maybe Stuey, dark horse Nick Nuyens, Argentine ant Rebellin or Mr perpetual motion Ete Zabel. In the women's race I reckon Cooke and Melchers will have a serious go of it and maybe one of the Litouwers, despite internal Ructions that are threatening to rip the team apart. And Oenone Wood, pronounced Eh-no-nee.

Not much has happened in the last four weeks due to Vuelta/World's, but I did manage to drag myself out of bed on Sunday morning for the final Berchem ride of the season, a.k.a. the Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen. Hadn't done one for a month and my training has been fairly minimal in between, sickness included. Anyway, everyone was up for it including snelle Eddy, Guido, The Kid (Piet Stevens), Guy Callens and the usual bunch.

The decisive move was made after about halfway, before we got to the climbs, when Guido and Eddy attacked (again) on the flat about 5 km before Frasnes. I waited because every other time, the Others had started chasing and that would have been an easier way to bring them back. I mean, you don't let the two strongest guys ride off the front without a bit of resistance, do you? Yep. Oh well.

They had a good 30 seconds and were rapidly disappearing up the road when I decided that some sort of rearguard action was necessary. One other guy agreed with me and we hared off after them at Mach 0.0037. But he only did one turn before waving ta-ta and returning to the fold of the bunch. I looked back, saw that I was halfway across and there was no option but to continue. Urgh. Why did I wait in the beginning? Too Late Now.

I caught them in another few km and completely spent all my reserves in the process. Eddy and Guido dragged me up the climbs but I could still contribute on the flats. We went a different way for the final, turning right at Flobecq(?) instead of left and doing a long - and by that stage extremely painful - false flat followed by a climb. I swapped off with Eddy until about 500m from the top when he jumped with Guido on his wheel. That turned out to be the finish, but I had to let them go anyway. God it hurts so much when you're a bit unfit. You ride the same way but end up hurting yourself a lot more. Even on the way back to the café, I was seeing stars on the Hotonde when Eddy drove it to the top.

This time I actually stopped in the café for a few reviving beverages. I had a couple of cokes and a Konijntje, which is like an Affligem but with a bit more sugar added in the brewing process. You can only get it at that café, Guido said. It tasted good but I would have been ruined with more than one. It also made the ride home very interesting - for the first part Guido and I were still swapping off at 36-38 km/h, and I couldn't feel my legs. Then the beer wore off and the fuzziness turned into complete glycogen debt for the last 25 km, where I was on my own, getting slower and slower. Ooooooooh dear. I did make it, but was down to about 22 km/h at the end.

Monday was a good day to sleep in.

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